The View from the Top of the Andes
11.07.2016 - 17.07.2016 50 °F
Rainbow Mountain is located southeast of Cusco, in the heart of the Andes.
It's official name is Vinicunca, and the mountain is a more mysterious adventure destination, as there is no wikipedia page and information online is scarce.
After finding out Vinicunca was the inspiration for the Cusquena flag, Sarah looked up some photos and was diligent about finding a way to the trailhead.
Our day began at 3AM, when we drove a couple hours to Pitumarca where we ate a breakfast of cold bread rolls in a mud hut in 30 degree weather.
What an eye opening perspective.
We arrived at the trailhead in Quesyuno as the sun was rising.
It was quite steep from the get go.
We passed several herds of resting alpaca and llama.
And several herds of roaming alpaca and llama.
As we scaled upwards, we were overwhelmed by the beautifully diverse landscape.
To the right were steep snow capped peaks:
To the left were striped multicolored hills:
As the hours passed, the incline did not let up, and our lungs began to burn with the altitude.
The Peruvian women hiking in sandals as they led their horses up to the pass inspired us to keep going.
The final half mile was so challenging, we had to take frequent breaks to not pass out. There are no photos of the tough part- we were trying too hard to breathe.
When we finally made it to the top, the view was INCREDIBLE!
We were so happy to have survived the walk up!
Rainbow Mountain's peak is 16,466 feet tall,
which means that we climbed to a summit higher than any peak in the continental US!
Apu is the Incan god or spirit of mountains and locals say that he painted this section of the Andes himself.
Rainbow Mountain certainly looks like a hand painted masterpiece.
We spent about an hour at the top soaking in gorgeous views like these, before needing to turn around to descend before sunset.
We practically skipped down because we could feel the air thicken with each step.
We were proud and exhausted as we wrapped up the hike.
We summitted Rainbow Mountain to train for our 4 day Lares trek, so stay tuned for the next post with photos from that adventure!